2 coalition troops killed, 5 injured in Syria blast
An improvised explosive blast in Syria killed two servicemembers supporting the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition and wounded five others late Thursday, the military said.
The wounded were immediately treated and were being evacuated for further treatment, Operation Inherent Resolve said in a statement on Friday.
The names and nationalities of those killed were not released. Additional details of the incident were being withheld pending an investigation, the coalition said.
The statement did not say where the incident occurred. But it came hours after The Associated Press reported that a local Syrian official had said a roadside bomb went off in Manbij, an Arab-Kurdish town not far from the border with Turkey, where U.S. troops patrol alongside their allies and are based nearby.
Mohammed Abu Adel, head of the Manbij Military Council, a US.-backed Arab-Kurdish group in Manbij, told AP that the bomb went off hundreds of meters from a security headquarters that houses the council just before midnight on Thursday.
After defeating Kurdish fighters and taking control of Afrin, a Syrian town 60 miles west, Turkey has threatened to march on Manbij and take it from the Kurds. Ankara views the Kurdish YPG militia — the U.S. ally in the anti-ISIS fight — as terrorists and part of an insurgent group that operates inside Turkey.
The mixed Arab and Kurdish town of about 400,000 people was liberated from ISIS in the summer of 2016 with the help of coalition airstrikes and has been controlled by the U.S. -backed military council since. In recent weeks, it has also been the site of several small blasts, protests and an assassination attempt on a military council member.
Local officials blame Turkey and other adversaries for seeking to sow chaos there.
The fatal bombing this week caused the first deaths from hostile action for the coalition this year.
It came as President Donald Trump, speaking at an event in Ohio, said the U.S. would be “coming out of Syria like very soon.”
Eleven U.S. servicemembers have died in noncombat incidents while supporting the anti-ISIS fight in Iraq and Syria this year, including seven Air Force personnel killed earlier this month in a helicopter crash in western Iraq, near the Syrian border.
“Our prayers are with their families, friends and fellow service members,” said Dillon, the coalition spokesman.